The Phenomenon of Julien’s Million Dollar Celebrity Auctions

Imagine being able to rock the iconic fits of your favorite pop diva or boy band hearthrob? While it be a mere dream for most of us, there’s a select group of beyond wealthy super fans that are more than willing to cough a pretty penny.

Some folks like Ghost Adventures host Zak Bagans will spend upwards of six figures on auctions for memorabilia. It’s the shoppers of Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills, California that really take the cake – paying million upon millions for the belongings of such celebs are Janet Jackson and the members of BTS!

RELATED: Parts From James Dean’s Car Sold For $382K To Ghost Adventurer Zak Bagans

The Beginnings of Julien’s Auctions

Established in 2003, Julien’s Auction became the first of its kind to exclusively sell pop culture and celebrity memorabilia. While other notable auction houses like Heritage see sales in the billions for rare trading cards, Julien’s offers legendary items like the sweater Kurt Cobain wore during Nirvana MTV Unplugged performance.

“I’ve had offers of $500,000 to $700,000 to get the buyer to sell it,” auction owner Darren Julien boasts to the Wall Street Journal.

“Rich millennials don’t want Picasso and Monet. They want pop culture,” he goes on to say, “(Julien’s) specializes in things people don’t need, but things that they want.”

The inspiration for the affluent house came from a 1999 auction at Christie’s, where investment analyst and fund manager Martin Zwei spent a hefty $1.26 million on the coveted dress worn by Marilyn Monroe to sing “Happy Birthday” to JFK.

Julien’s followed in Christie’s footsteps during a time when buyers were still much more interested in collectibles and artwork. Along with this initial setback, acquiring pieces from living A-list names also proved to be a problem in the shop’s early days.

“I remember, when I was trying to talk Cher into doing the auction nearly 15 years ago,” Julien tells the Guardian, “she said: ‘[But] I’m not dead.”

Though, after seeing instances like Barbra Streisand selling 400 of her “extra” belongings in 2009, Julien saw the growing demand for the items of living icons.

Ironically, when Julien’s sold the same Marilyn Monroe dress that begot the shop’s inspiration, it was placed as the 2nd ‘World’s Most Expensive Dress Ever Offered At Auction’ by the Guinness Book of World Records.

A post shared by Julien's Auctions Official (@juliens_auctions)

The Celebrity Auction Market Today

Nowadays, Julien’s is inching closer to becoming one of the most frequented auctions in the country. Just last year, Kurt Cobain’s MTV Unplugged guitar was sold  for $6 million to owner Rode Microphones, Peter Freedman. The astonishing sale set five separate world records – one of which being the Most Expensive Piece of Memorabilia.

A post shared by Julien's Auctions Official (@juliens_auctions)

One of the house’s more recent auction success was in January, when seven costumes worn by the members of the worldwide K-Pop sensation, BTS in their music video for Dynamite sold at a whopping $162,500.

Since the admiration for the band has only increased since they first broke into the scene, it was pretty likely that the costumes would sell like hot cakes. What shocked Darren was just how huge the bids got. While the costumes’ estimated price was at $40,000, the owner could’ve never expected for them to sell for as high as they did.

The lucky buyers were billionaire, art collector Yusaku Maezawa and Youtuber Hikakin. They shared a video of them winning the bid on YouTube.

“If you take a set of outfits that are worth $2,000 and put them on BTS, have them perform in them in a music video and then the song is nominated for a Grammy,” Julien explains, “you just increased the value of those outfits 81 times.”

Even A-listers themselves are getting in on the auction action. Kim Kardashian went to Julien’s to buy Janet Jackson’s iconic costume from her 1993 music video for If. Kim bought the cropped suede top and laced pant set for $25,000, according to CNN.

The set was part of a three-day sale of Jackson’s belongs to commemorate her 55th birthday. Over 1,000 pieces, including other iconic performance and music video costumes were sold.

“Janet Jackson was one of the most difficult people to talk into an auction because she’s so private,” Darren tells the Guardian, “Even Janet was surprised at the results . . .”

The boom of celebrity memorabilia hasn’t seemed to show any signs of slowing down. This month, Julien’s Auctions is set to sell upwards of 1,000 lots of legendary instruments and other miscellaneous belongings owned by some the the biggest music stars. From Alex Van Halen’s drum kit played during the 1980 “Invasion Tour” to handwritten lyrics from Bob Dylan’s ‘Lay, Lady Lay’, the event is sure to see even more record breaking purchases.

Darren attributes the ever growing phenomenon of his auctions quite simply: “A collector recently told me: ‘It’s cooler to hang John Lennon’s guitar on my wall than a Monet or Picasso.”

Read Next: Cars From Frank Sinatra & Other Celebrities Going Up For Auction Next Month

Sources: Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Reuter, Guinness Book of World Records, CNN

Source: Read Full Article